Pin, Pins, and More Pins: Everything You Need to Know About Sewing Pins

There are a lot of different types of sewing pins out there, but what’s the difference between them, and what type of pins should you use?


There are a lot of different types of sewing pins out there, but what’s the difference, and what type should you use for your project?  The difference between pins is more than cosmetic and can make a huge difference for your project.  In this post I will explore the different types of sewing pins available and their uses.

If you are looking for a place to store your pins check out my pin cushion tutorial.

Disclaimer: Please note that the links below may be affiliate links and I will earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through those links. I only work with affiliate programs that I trust and genuinely recommend.

Anatomy of a Sewing Pin

Anatomy of a Pin

All pins have a metal shaft with a pin head at the top to help you grip them, along with a pointed tip.  The differences between them come with the type, length, and width of the metal along with the pin head.

Pin Head

Pin Head- glass, plastic ball, headless, and flat head.

Glass Head Pins have a glass ball on top.  Heat won’t melt the glass head pin so you can iron these without fear.

Plastic Ball Head Pins have a plastic ball on top. These pins can melt when ironed so if you plan on ironing with the pins in the fabric, be careful.  These pins come in different colors, including pearl versions, which help make them standout on the fabric or floor.

Headless Pins have a flatted top that won’t melt when ironed.  Dress maker pins have this type of pin head.

Flat Head Pins are generally plastic and have a large flat head that is easy to grasp.  The no melt versions can be ironed without fear of melting your pins.

Pin Shaft Width

Pin Shaft Width- .4, .5, and .6mm.

The thickness of the shaft can make a big difference depending on the type of fabric you are using.  Using a pin that is too large for your fabric will leave large holes behind when removed.  Most of the time pins aren’t marked with their width.  Most of the pins found in the notions isle are .5mm or .6mm.  The .6mm generally have larger heads and look more like craft pins.

.4mm Pins are incredibly fine pins.  These are hard to find but they are great for delicate fabric.

.5mm Pins.  These pins are sometimes marked as extra fine or fine and they are best for fine, light weight, and sheer fabric.

.6mm Pins are the all-purpose pins.  These pins are best for medium weight fabrics.

.7-.8mm Pins are very thick pins.  These pins are best for medium to heavy weight fabrics and crafts.

Pin Shaft Length

Pin Shaft Length- size 24, 17, and 12.

It’s important to use pins with the right length.  Different projects work best with different length pins.  The size listed on the pack of pins is referencing the length.  The larger the sizer the longer the pin.

Pin Size Table

Sequin and Applique Pins are very short pins, generally less than an inch long.  These are ideal for projects where the pins will need to be close together without overlapping, like a piece of rounded applique.

All Purpose and Dressmaker Pins are medium length pins generally between 1” and 1¼”.  These are best for medium weight fabrics.

Quilting, Craft, and Flat Pins are extra long pins more than an inch long.  The extra length is nice for extra layers, heavy fabric, or lace.


Sharp Pins have a sharp point.  These pins are best for most woven fabrics including microfiber.

Ball Point Pins have a rounded point.  These pins are best for knits.  The rounded point slides between the strands of the fabric instead of piercing through them.

Types of Metal

You can buy pins in a few different materials.  Most of the pins found at your local craft store are nickle plated steel or stainless steel.

Brass is also rustproof but harder to find.

Nickle Plated Brass is rustproof and won’t varnish but it also hard to find.

Nickle Plated Steel  is magnetic.  This is the most easily found material.

Stainless Steel is rustproof.  This is also fairly easy to find.

Specific Types of Sewing Pins

Depending on your project the right pin can be very important.  Luckily there are plenty to choose from and may are created with specific materials in mind.

Applique Pins are short fine pins used for hand sewn applique.

Ball Point Pins have a rounded tip perfect for woven fabrics.

Bridal and Lace Pins are fine pins used for delicate fabrics and lace.

Dressmaker Pins are all purpose pins, great for woven fabrics.

Flat Head Pins are long fine pins great for lace and lofty fabrics.  These pins come in a variety of shapes including flowers, buttons, and butterflies.

Pleating Pins are fine sharp pins used for creating pleats in lightweight fabric.

Quilting Pins have a longer shaft to go through multiple layers of fabric for basting quilts.

Satin Pins are used for satin.

Silk Pins are used for silk and other synthetic fabrics, these are also rustproof.

Sequin Pins are incredibly short and fine, used for sequins and hand applique.

I learned to sew with ball point pins so that is what I continued to buy.  I discovered how useful sewing with the right pin can be, the first time I used long pearlized pins with duck cloth.  Complete game change.  What are your favorite pins?

There are a lot of different types of sewing pins out there, but what’s the difference between them, and what type of pins should you use?Pin, Pins, and More Pins




Leave a comment.